Immigration Reform

Immigration Reform

State and Local Aid for Immigrants during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Innovating Inclusion

State and local governments have exercised unusual powers since the early days of the Coronavirus lockdowns, ordering businesses to open and close, the wearing of masks and much else. Amidst it all, renewed activism on immigration issues in some parts of the country has produced measures that offer emergency economic relief and access to health care for immigrants left out of federal programs, especially the undocumented. In other cases, governments have facilitated employment by immigrants considered “essential” from surgeons to farmworkers.

Read More

Deportation in the Trump-Era: Separated Families and Devitalized Communities

A new featured story from The Marshall Project profiles three families in northeast Ohio who have faced “financial ruin, mental health crises—and even death” after one member of each family was deported. Using extensive analysis of census data from the Center for Migration of New York (CMS), the feature concludes that about 909,000 mixed-status families, those with undocumented and US citizen members, would face financial hardship and risk falling into poverty if their undocumented breadwinners were deported.

Read More

Coronavirus Pandemic Exposes Injustice of US Immigration System

The coronavirus pandemic has challenged many commonly-held perceptions about the United States.  We have learned we are not invincible, for one, and are not always the best prepared in responding to crises.  We also have an inequitable health-care system, as we lack the medical resources to care for everyone and too many in our country remain without health-care coverage. The other inconvenient truth that the pandemic has revealed is the injustice of our immigration system;  we depend upon the labor of immigrants but scapegoat them as the cause of our problems.

Read More

Immigrant Detention and COVID-19: How the US Detention System Became a Vector for the Spread of the Pandemic

Immigrant detention is intended to serve two main purposes, to ensure that non-citizens appear for their removal proceedings and to protect the public. Yet in the current circumstances, detention imperils detainees, the staff and contractors at detention facilities, court officials, health care providers, the public in nearby communities, and communities to which detainees return. ICE has adopted unenforceable policies and practices that do not reflect the severity of this crisis. It cannot safeguard those in its custody and should move with far greater dispatch to release far more immigrants.

Read More

Moving Beyond Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Trump: Principles, Interests, and Policies to Guide Long-Term Reform of the US Immigration System
This paper introduces a special collection of 15 articles that chart a course for long-term reform of the US immigration system. The papers look beyond recent legislative debates and the current era of rising nationalism and restrictionism to outline the elements of a forward-looking immigration policy that would serve the nation’s interests, honor its liberal democratic ideals, promote the full participation of immigrants in the nation’s life, and exploit the opportunities offered by an increasingly interdependent world.

Read More

Enforcement, Integration, and the Future of Immigration Federalism
Given the density of the intergovernmental dynamics that shape the country’s immigration policy, it is imperative to develop a comprehensive strategy for immigration federalism. State and local involvement in immigration policy are varied but fall into two basic categories: 1) enforcement federalism, which concerns the extent to which localities should assist or resist federal removal policies, and 2) integration federalism, which encompasses measures designed to assist immigrants, regardless of status, to integrate in the United States. This essay offers four basic principles to frame any future federalism agenda on immigration.

Read More

Is Border Enforcement Effective? What We Know and What it Means
For too long, the policy debate over border enforcement has been split between those who believe the border can be sealed against illegal entry by force alone, and those who believe that any effort to do so is futile without expanding legal work opportunities. New evidence suggests that unauthorized migration across the southern border has plummeted, and border enforcement has been a significant reason for this decline. These research advances should help to inform a more rational public debate over border enforcement expenditures. In particular, Congress should take a careful look at the incremental gains that might come from additional spending on border enforcement. The evidence suggests that deterrence through enforcement, despite its successes in reducing illegal entry across the border, is producing diminishing returns due to three reasons. First, arrivals at the border are increasingly made up of asylum seekers from Central America, which is a population that is harder to deter because of the dangers they face at home, and in many cases not appropriate to deter because the United States has legal obligations to consider requests for asylum. Second, the majority of new additions to the US unauthorized population is now arriving on legal visas and then overstaying. And finally, among Mexican migrants, a growing percentage of repeat border crossers are parents with children left behind in the United States, a population that is far harder to deter. Finally, the administration could better inform this debate by releasing to scholars and the public the research it has sponsored in order to give Americans a fuller picture on border enforcement.

Read More

Segmentation and the Role of Labor Standards Enforcement in Immigration Reform
Despite the fact that many low-wage, violation-ridden industries are disproportionately occupied by immigrants, labor standards and immigration reform have largely been treated as separate pieces of an otherwise interrelated puzzle. Not only is this view misguided, but this paper argues that strengthening labor standards enforcement would ensure that standards are upheld for all workers, immigrant and others. In addition, labor standards enforcement is instrumental to the erosion of sub-standard conditions in certain sectors, often referred to as the “secondary” labor market, that are associated with advanced market economies. Ensuring labor standards are upheld diminishes the incentive for employers to undercut wages by exploiting vulnerable workers, many of whom are immigrants. As this paper argues, strengthening enforcement must include not only “vertical” mechanisms, including strategic enforcement and penalizing and criminalizing egregious and repeated labor violators, but also “lateral” mechanisms, such as co-enforcement by workers and through worker and community organizations. The article illustrates the role of co-enforcement in labor standards through two case studies.

Read More